Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tar Heels' coach encouraged by improvement of passing game

There is good news from North Carolina’s preseason camp for fans frustrated with the Tar Heels’ passing game a year ago.

In 2006, the Tar Heels completed barely half their passes (50.8 percent) with 18 interceptions and just 11 touchdown passes. First-year North Carolina coach Butch Davis said those struggles continued during spring practice.

But Davis said Wednesday that the passing game is the team’s most significant area of improvement since the spring.

"We’ve got too many good playmakers at the skill positions to not have some effectiveness," Davis said.

Improved protection is a factor in the improvement. Davis said he also has been pleased with wide receivers Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster, Hakeem Nicks, Greg Little and Kenton Thornton.

Tight ends – long a Davis passing-game staple with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Hurricanes – also are getting involved, with Richard Quinn, Ryan Taylor and Zach Pianalto contributing.

That’s encouraging for the Tar Heels, because with the team’s returning tailbacks having totaled one carry all last season, the running game is far from a sure thing.

- Ken Tysiac